CHICAGO, IL - The Pan-Laconian Progressive Brotherhood of Chicago awarded students and community leaders of Laconian descent at its annual Scholarship and Awards Dinner December 27. Held at St. Demetrios Church in Chicago, the event, attended by some 85 individuals, honored six students with a total of $6,500 in scholarships.
“As Laconians we do have certain characteristics, certain traditions that nobody else does. They are unique and they are very very important to maintain,” Pan-Laconian Progressive Brotherhood President Louis G. Atsaves said.
During the presentation, each student’s scholarship application essay was read. The prompt, which asked them to write about a Laconian they look up to was well received as the students recounted trips to their ancestral Greek villages, memories, and lessons learned from their grandparents and parents. Among essays, the common theme was an urge to work hard and never give up, and despite all odds, to pursue education and chance at a better life.
“Your ancestor’s struggles are a reminder to you everyday...they left their parents, they left their homeland. They had little money, little education, and did not speak English, yet they persevered and built a life in America,” said Tom Maheras, who delivered the welcome speech for the evening. “Their goal was to ensure that their children and their children’s children will succeed in America while not forgetting their roots,” he said.
With roots in the 1880s, the the Pan-Laconian Progressive Brotherhood was established in 1906, making it is one of the oldest continuously running diaspora societies in Chicago. It is currently comprised of some 300 members.
“We honor and remember those form Laconia Greece by awarding scholarship to students of Laconian descent. It’s important to remember our heritage, where our families came from, and how the Laconians worked hard and helped each other in order to make a better life for themselves,” said Patricia Atsaves, Chairman of the Pan-Laconian Progressive Brotherhood Educational Scholarship Committee.
The students were awarded with a framed certificate and medal of honor. Each received a scholarship of $1,000, while Panagiota Irene Markakos, a student at Marquette University, also received a $500 scholarship from the Pan-Laconian Federation of U.S.A. and Canada.
Recipient of this year’s Laconian of the Year “Inspiring Paradeigma” Award was Chris Atsaves, Senior VP at UBS Financial Services, while the “Inspiring Philanthropia” Award went to Irene Kaporis, who was honored for her contributions to the Brotherhood’s philanthropic efforts.
“It’s so satisfying helping people,” said Kaporis, who volunteers for a Feed the Hungry program at Annunciation Cathedral in downtown Chicago.
The 2018 Pan-Laconian Progressive Brotherhood of Chicago Scholarship winners were:
Patricia Pabst, University of Iowa, pursuing a degree in business.
Dimitra Loukis, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, pursuing a degree in digital marketing and analytics.
Gregory Leftakes, University of Wisconsin-Madison, pursuing a degree in civil engineering.
Alexandra Mantice, Purdue University, pursuing a degree in medical laboratory science.
Marina Kyriakopoulos, DePaul University, pursuing a degree in liberal arts, social science and English.
Panagiota Irene Markakos, Marquette University, pursuing a degree in medicine.
“My Pan-Laconian heritage has allowed me to stay close to my family...and has opened up doors for me to become more educated on my family heritage,” Kyriakopoulos wrote in her essay. “I am able to proudly say I am of Laconian descent, and this has become part of the identity I wish to portray to the world.”
The scholarships were made possible by Tom Maheras, Markos Kalogeras, Louis and Helen Atsaves, the Pan-Laconian Brotherhood of Chicago and the Pan-Laconian Federation of U.S.A and Canada. Catering services were provided by Dengeos Restaurant. The evening included a buffet-style dinner and cake, and concluded with traditional Greek carols.